A 47-year-old Newport Beach bartender was shot and killed early Wednesday by a gunman who accosted him as he walked to his car in the Lido Peninsula area, authorities said.
The bartender lived in Newport Beach, but his name was withheld until relatives could be notified.
Newport Beach Police Department spokesman Bob Oakley said the bartender was fatally shot about 1 a.m. as he walked to his car parked in the 3000 block of Lafayette Avenue, next to the Cannery Restaurant.
Oakley said the bartender was stopped as he walked to his car by two men in a Toyota pickup truck. The truck drove the wrong way down Lafayette from 31st Street and stopped beside the bartender, Oakley said. As the truck driver waited, the passenger got out, briefly talked with the bartender, then fired one shot into his chest. The gunman then sped off in the truck, Oakley said.
The wounded man was rushed to Fountain Valley Regional Hospital & Medical Center, where he died a short time later, Oakley said. He added that the bartender “lived in the area” of the shooting, and it was not clear Wednesday whether the man had just gotten off work or was walking to the car from his nearby home.
Oakley said the bartender was believed to work at Delaney’s Restaurant in the 600 block of Lido Park Drive. But Delaney’s restaurant manager Sherry Corbin said Wednesday, “To our knowledge, the man does not work here.”
Police have yet to establish a motive for the fatal shooting.
“We have no idea at all why the shooting occurred,” Oakley said. “We have a couple of witnesses, but we’re hoping more witnesses will call us because two restaurants in the area were still open and some people may have seen the incident and not realized what they were seeing.”
One eyewitness, who asked not to be identified, said in an interview that he was walking near the scene about 1 a.m. “and saw the whole thing by accident.”
The man’s account was essentially the same as that released by Oakley. “It all happened so fast,” he said. “When the gun popped, I jumped behind a car.” He said he did not know what the gunman said to the bartender in the few moments before the fatal shooting.
According to Oakley, witnesses have told police that the Toyota pickup was a model made about 1976 to 1980 and was blue in color, with a white camper shell and fog lamps.
The gunman was described by witnesses as being a Latino, about 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighing 140 to 170 pounds, with medium-length, bushy hair, Oakley said. The man was said to be wearing a blue-denim jacket, blue jeans and white shoes. The driver of the truck was described only as a man in a white shirt.
Anyone with information about the incident was asked to call Newport Beach investigators at (714) 644-3717.